Jul 25, 2007 5:11pm
Re: Today's Poll - Favorite Obscure Dead Tune
Maybe it's "Belles". I lifted this from Dodd's Annotated Lyrics of the Dead here: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/mission.html
This note from a reader:
From: John [mailto:FriscoJohn@comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2003 9:31 AM
Subject: Mission In the Rain
Many thanks for your work on the Dead...."Annotated" is a resource I've used time and time again to clarify lyrics.
I've been thinking a lot lately about Mission in the Rain. I believe the word "bell" should probably be spelled "belle"....or at least, is a very deliberate pun.
The song, of course, is about a guy walking through the San Francisco Mission district at midnight in the rain. The main thing you will find at midnight around 17th and Mission (where Hunter used to live) is hookers, and this has been true at least back to the early Sixties. (For street hookers, tourists in SF go to the Tenderloin, near the big hotels. The locals have always come to the Mission). The main hooker area for many years in the Mission has been 16th to 18th on Mission, and 16th to 18th on the parallel alley, Capp. **
There are no Mission Bells at midnight in the Mission....but there are many Mission "Belles." Other things which point to this in the song:
"I must turn down your offer but I'd like to ask a break...." (He's broke, or doesn't have enough money?)
"Someone called my name, you know, I turned around to see...." (A girl he'd been with before?)
Other lyrics also seem to fit.... (There's some satisfaction in the San Francisco Rain...) etc.
John B. Andrews
** this is only slightly less true today....the influx of yuppies has resulted in a bit of a crackdown....but the girls are still there.